Thoughts, musings and observations from the Penguins' 4-0 win over Winnipeg on Friday at PPG Paints Arena.
* The victory extends the Pens' streak to eight straight games and overall, they're 10-1 in their last 11 and 13-2-1 in their last 16. Pens head coach Mike Sullivan had to be a lot more pleased with this effort compared to how they played in their 7-2 win over the Rangers on Wednesday. He felt that game was a lot closer than the score indicated, and that his team lacked energy and intensity.
That wasn't the case tonight, as the Pens played a solid game against a strong opponent. They viewed this as a measuring stick, as Winnipeg is a fast, fearless and physical team with a ton of depth. And the Pens rose to the challenge by playing on their toes, dictating the play and limiting their scoring chances.
* They made it easier on Matt Murray, who had to be absolutely spectacular at Madison Square Garden to keep his team in that game. But the Jets still had some chances, and he was there to thwart them every time. He made 33 total saves to earn his second shutout in his last five games. Overall, Murray improved to 7-0 since returning from a lower-body injury that forced him to miss about a month.
If you ask any of the players why they've had such success lately, they'll point to the play of their goaltenders, who have allowed just nine goals during this eight-game streak.
* The Pens spread the scoring throughout their lineup on Wednesday and they continued to spread the wealth tonight against the Jets as Matt Cullen, Olli Maatta and Dominik Simon all got themselves in the goal column. As Sullivan said the other night, when you can spread your offense through your lineup it gives you a better chance to win, and it's no coincidence they're getting results because of it.
Simon in particular had himself a game. This was without a doubt his best performance of the season, and he was named the game's First Star for his efforts. He finished the night with a career-high seven shots on goal and had a couple of phenomenal scoring chances.
On the first one, Simon had an open net but hit the post as Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck desperately slid over to try and make a save. On the second one, Hellebuyck appeared to glove Simon's backhander before the puck crossed the goal line. But after further review, a replay angle showed that the puck completely crossed the goal line while in Hellebuyck's glove and was ruled a good goal. Simon's teammates immediately began mobbing him as he sat on the bench waiting for the verdict.
* Maatta's goal came on the power play, the fourth straight game the Pens have scored on the man-advantage. They have scored on nine of their last 13 opportunities. Meanwhile, Cullen connected again with Zach Aston-Reese, who extended his career-long point streak to four games (2G-2A-4PTS). Aston-Reese's centering pass went off Patrik Laine's stick, rolled up Cullen's shoulder and bounced off of his ear and into the net. Not the prettiest play, but they'll take it.